Biological Purification of Silicate Minerals
Bioleaching is technology applicable to iron extraction from low-grade non-metallic raw materials. Bioleaching of quartz sands and feldspars involves the action of heterotrophic bacteria. Impurities include fine – grained limonite, goethite, hematite or mica were removed by the reductive dissolution of Fe3+ in linked with the silicate mineral destruction. Heterotrophic bacteria produced organic acids that are able to solubilize Fe oxide and silicates but require organic carbon as a source of energy. Molasses is a relatively inexpensive carbon source used for various industrial fermentations and contains also other nutrients that accounted for the enhancement of iron dissolution in this study. The admixture of pigments in molasses coloured the samples, but the discoloration could be removed by the addition of NaClO following the bioleaching step. The feasibility of the bioleaching treatment has to be tested specifically to each type of silicate raw materials. The Fe content in the quartz sands and feldspar samples by the biological leaching decreased as much as 60% and by subsequent using of electromagnetic separation of feldspars, the decrease of Fe content in 74% was achieved. However, the application of magnetic separation of quartz sands after bioleaching resulted in total iron removal of 93 % and in such combined way prepared product contained 0.024 % of Fe2O3. Achieved results on iron removal point to the fact that combination of leaching and magnetic separation enables to obtain product usable in glass and ceramic industry.
Axel Schippers, Wolfgang Sand, Franz Glombitza and Sabine Willscher
I. Štyriaková and M. Lovás, "Biological Purification of Silicate Minerals", Advanced Materials Research, Vols. 20-21, pp. 126-129, 2007